When Ismoil (fictitious name), a 41-year-old man, graduated from school in the city of Vahdat in 1992, he got his driver's licence and was hoping to get a job as a driver. But in the same year, the civil war started and he was forced to take arms and fight. In 1998, when the war was over, Tajikistan was devastated and Ismoil was put in prison for participating in the war. After nine years in prison, Ismoil was released. While leaving prison meant freedom, it also meant being unemployed. Ismoil had to deal with his lack of professional experience and education on his own, as he had no friends, no social network, nor any other type of support on the outside. On top of that, as an ex-convict, Ismoil was an easy target for harassment from the police, who would find any excuse to arrest and harass him. Through a friend who is still in prison, he heard of the services provided at the Service Desk for ex-prisoners in Dushanbe by the Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law (BHR), DVV's local partner NGO. The project has a unit in four Tajik cities, providing free legal and psychological counselling for former convicts. They also refer clients to centres that provide treatment for those who abuse drugs and alcohol, a very common problem among ex-prisoners. The project also works with capacity development inside prisons, targeting both prison staff and convicts in Nurek Women's Prison, with the aim to improve conditions inside and prepare prisoners for life outside the walls. Zarrina Alimshoeva, the centre’s psychologist, says that clients who come to her are often traumatised, afraid and lack self-esteem. For Ismoil, receiving the services of Zarrina and her colleague became a turning point in his life. "When I came to Zarrina, I felt like I could stretch my wings. Whenever I face any challenges, I pass by or call them", says Ismoil. The lawyer at the centre has managed to help Ismoil deal with groundless indemnity claims from authorities and Zarrina has helped him restore his self-confidence. Today, Ismoil has a job as a forest ranger and he is hoping that, someday, he will get promoted, earn more money and regain the respect he diserves. After coming in contact with the BHR Service Desk, he does not feel so lonely anymore. "After I was released I had no friends. Right now I have a lawyer and a psychologist and I see them as my friends", says Ismoil.